“Motive” (Gk. “boule”) means “purpose” or “plan”; (Gk. “dialogismos”) meaning “reason”; (Gk. “hagnos”) meaning “pure motive”; (Gk. “kakos”) meaning “wrong motive”.

“Motive” is something that causes a person to act in a certain way, do a certain thing, etc.; incentive. The goal or object of a person’s actions (Webster’s College Dictionary).

Prov. 16:2; 21:2

Though a person may think that what he’s doing is right/good/pure/innocent, what does the Lord weigh/judge?


Have you ever done anything that you thought was good, right, or helpful to others or to God, yet later realized that your motive for doing so was self-centered?

Do you ever stop to analyze why you do nice things for people or why you obey or serve God?

If so, how often?


Do you think this would be a good thing to do periodically?

Why (1 Cor. 10:31; 16:14)?


Judges 14:1-3

What was Samson’s apparent motive for wanting this Philistine woman to be his wife?


Does his motive seem to be selfish, that of sexual lust, judging not only by what is said in Judges 14:3, but also by what is said in Judges 16:1, 4?

Also, wasn’t it wrong for Samson to marry a non-Israelite in the region, according to Ex. 34:11-16; Deut. 7:1-4; Neh. 13:23-27; Ezra 9:1-14?

If you’re a Christian, have you ever pursued a marriage relationship with a non-Christian (which is a sin, 2 Cor. 6:14-15) or a carnal/worldly Christian (which is also a sin, 1 Cor. 5:11; 15:33; Prov. 22:5, 10, 24; 24:1-2, 21-22; 20:19), and done so with wrong motives (mainly selfish reasons, e.g., sexual ones, 2 Tim. 2:22)?



[The main biblical purpose for a believer to get married is that of being able to fulfill his/her God-given responsibilities better with a helper (Gen. 2:15, 20).  However, if the believer can fulfill God’s will/responsibilities better as a single person, then he/she is better off remaining single (1 Cor. 7:32-35; Matt. 19:10-12).].


1 Sam. 8:4-7, 19-20

What was the motive/reason the Israelites wanted a king to rule over them rather than for God to rule over them through His appointed spiritual leaders?


Was what they wanted (a king) wrong (also see 1 Sam. 12:17-19)?

Did God give them a king anyway (1 Sam. 8:7, 9, 11)?

Did you learn from this that God sometimes gives people the wrong things they want (another example is found in Psa. 106:13-15)?

Have you ever wanted something that was not only wrong but also with wrong motives (e.g., to be like everyone else rather than to be the way God wanted you)?

What are some areas that many Christians want to be like everyone else in rather than be the way God wants?


Could taking illicit drugs, getting drunk, committing immorality, wearing immodest clothing, listening to unedifying music, acquiring an expensive home and car for yourself, or pursuing a secular education and/or job without first consulting God to see if it’s His will, which includes evan­gelism, building up believers spiritually, and living a holy life, be some areas that you want to be like “everyone else” in?


1 Sam. 15:1-3, 7-15, 19-24  Did Saul completely obey God (1 Sam. 15:3, 9)?


What was Saul’s supposed motive for sparing the best of the sheep and oxen (1 Sam. 15:21)?

Was this “seemingly good” motive acceptable to God (1 Sam. 15:22-23)?

Are your motives for disobeying God ever religious sounding in nature?

What are some things Christians do that are wrong, yet their motives for doing so are religious sounding?


Could stealing food to feed the homeless or hungry be an example?

Or, cheating on your income taxes to give extra money to missions?

Or, lying to get a Christian friend out of a jam?

Or, breaking the speed limit to get to a Bible study group on time?


1 Sam. 18:20-25

What was king Saul’s motive for offering his daughter in marriage to David?


Have you ever done a nice thing for someone, but had evil motives for doing so?

Have you ever given people food, gifts, or money with the hope/desire of some day get­ting even more back from them in return?

Or, have you ever given or offered a spiritual/obedient Christian some secular/pagan opportunity, activity, or object in order to distract him/her from doing God’s will of evan­gelism, building up believers spiritually, and living a holy life?


Jer. 17:10    What does God search and test?


What do you think God would find if He searched and tested your heart/motives and mind for why you do the outwardly good/nice things you do for others, and why?

If it’s not from a motivation of love for people and/or God (1 Cor. 16:14), and to glorify/honor God (1 Cor. 10:31), how can you get that to be your motivation (Eph. 5:18; 1 Jn. 5:14-15; Gal. 5:22; Col. 3:12)?


1 Cor. 4:5      What will the Lord do when He returns to judge people?


Because it’s the Lord who examines our motives, what shouldn’t we do?

Do you ever judge the motives for why people do what they do?



Now that you know what God says in this verse, will you judge the motives of others?

And now that you know God is going to disclose people’s motives on judgment day for why they did what they did, how will that affect your motives from now on?


Phil. 1:15-17

What were some brethren/Christians doing from impure motives (i.e., selfish ambition)?


Do you ever evangelize from impure motives (e.g., to look good in the eyes of other Christians; to get a pat on the back, or a good feeling for yourself)?

How about other things (praying, reading your Bible, memorizing Scripture, spiritually following up new believers, building up believers spiritually, teaching a Bible study), do you do them out of love for God and people or from selfish ambition?

How do you know?


Jas. 4:3     Why doesn’t God sometimes answer the prayers of Christians?


Do you ever analyze your motives for the things you pray?

If so, how often?


Would this be a good thing to do periodically?



Matt. 6:1-6, 16-18

What motive for practicing righteousness (doing what’s right) does Jesus caution against (Matt. 6:1)?


Do you ever do good things in order to be noticed by people?



Why did hypocrites donate money to the synagogue (Matt. 6:2)?

Do you ever give money to the church or Christians to be honored by people?

If not, what is your motive for giving?


Why did the hypocrites stand praying in the street corners (Matt. 6:5)?

Do you ever pray to be seen by people so they’ll think you’re a godly or spiritually person?

Are there any good reasons to pray in public?

If so, what?

Why did the scribes offer long prayers (Mk. 12:40)?


Have you ever neglected your appearance while fasting so people who saw you would think you’re spiritual or holy?

What should be our motive(s) for fasting (Matt. 17:21; Acts 13:2; Dan. 9:3)?


Matt. 16:19, 21-23

What do you think Peter’s motive was for rebuking Jesus for saying He was going to be killed (based on Matt. 16:19, 23)?


Has your motive for wishing someone wouldn’t leave your area or ministry ever been selfish (because you would selfishly benefit from the person’s staying)?

When someone is doing God’s will, what should be the motive behind any comments we make about the person’s activities or future plans (Acts 21:14)?


Matt. 22:15-18

What was the motive for the Pharisee’s disciples and Herodians questioning Jesus?


Have you ever deliberately questioned a godly Christian to trap him/her into giving a response that would injure his/her character or well-being?



Matt. 27:11-12, 18

What was the motive behind the chief priests and Jewish elders for delivering up Jesus to the governor to be condemned?


Have you ever said or done anything bad/sinful toward a spiritual Christian be­cause you were envious of that person?

If so, what can you do to prevent this from happening again?


Jn. 6:24-26     What was the motive of the multitude for following Jesus?


What should their motive have been (Jn. 1:35-36, 40-41)?


Have you ever gone to a Bible study group for wrong reasons (e.g., to find a girl/boyfriend, get free food, play sports/games afterwards, etc.) rather than to learn about the Bible?


Jn. 21:16   What was Peter’s motive to be for shepherding Christ’s sheep/church?


Is your motive for teaching a Bible study group, helping new Christians grow spiritually, and/or building up believers spiritually that of love for Christ?

How do you know?


Acts 5:17-18      Why did the high priest and Sadducees put the apostles in prison?


Have you ever done anything bad toward godly Christians because you were jealous?

If so, have you changed your attitude?

Why, and how?


Acts 10:1-4, 22

Does Cornelius’ motive for being generous to people and praying to God seem to be right?


How do you know?


How do you think God views the motivation behind the Christian activities you do?



Acts 20:31-35

What wasn’t Paul’s motive for admonishing and ministering to the Christians at Ephesus for three years?


Have you ever ministered to, worked with, or taught a group of Christians for the purpose of getting money, clothes, or anything material out of them?



What should be our motive for teaching, counseling, or training Christians (Gal. 4:19)?


Is your motive that of wanting to help Christians grow into Christ-likeness in char­acter and mission (Eph. 4:11-13)?



Acts 27:30-31

What was the motive of the sailor’s letting down the boat from the ship?


How did they try to cover up this motive?


Do you ever try to cover up questionable motives by pretending to do something other than what you really want to do?

For example, have you ever told someone, who saw you witnessing to or counseling an attractive person of the opposite sex, that you were just trying to be helpful when in actuality you wanted to go out with or build a romantic relationship with that person?

Or, have you pretended to be praying when someone walked into your room when you were really sleeping because you didn’t want to look lazy?


1 Cor. 10:31  What should be the Christian’s motivation for all he/she does?


Is this true of you, and why?


What can you do to be more conscious of the motives you have for what you do?


What will you do to make God’s glory/honor your motivation for all you do?


1 Cor. 16:14  What also should the motivation/attitude be behind all that we do?


Is this true of you?



What are you going to do about it, if it’s not?

And when?


Rom. 14:7-8; Phil. 1:20-21

What should the Christian’s reason/purpose/motive be for living or dying?


Could people say this is true of you by what they see in and hear from you?



Rom. 15:2

What should the reason/purpose/motive be for pleasing our neighbor/fellow Christian?


Is this your motive for doing or saying things that please your fellow Christians, or is it to be liked/accepted by them?


Rom. 15:7 

What should our motive be for accepting other Christians whose beliefs about how to live the Christian life differ from ours in areas the Bible doesn’t talk about?


Do you glorify/honor God in your acceptance of Christians who differ from you in:  what they eat or don’t eat; on what day(s) they worship God; in the amount of time they pray, read the Bible, or witness?



1 Cor. 1:14-15

What was Paul’s reason/motive for being glad that he hadn’t baptized many Corinthian believers?


If you’ve ever baptized anyone, was it out of obedience to Matt. 28:19 or out of wanting to make a name or following for yourself?


1 Cor. 8:1-2, 7, 13; 10:28-29

Out of a motivation to not cause another Christian to stumble/sin in violating his conscience, what were these Christians told to do?


Is your motive for not drinking alcohol, not going to movie theaters or night clubs, etc., that of not wanting to influence (by your participation in them) other Christians to participate in these activities, which often lead to sin (e.g., drunkenness, pornography or other forms of polluting your mind, Phil. 4:8, or immorality)?


1 Cor. 9:11-12, 14, 18

What was Paul’s motive for not asking for money or material goods from those he preached the gospel to, even though he had the right to do so?


If you evangelize in a full-time ministry, do you think the same way?

How else are Paul’s motives described in 2 Cor. 2:17?

Is this also true of you?


1 Cor. 9:19, 22-23

What was Paul’s motivation in making himself a slave to all and in all he did?


Do you have this same motivation so that you might save/win more people to Christ?



1 Cor. 9:25, 27

What was Paul’s motive/reason for exercising self-control in all things?


Is your motivation for being self-controlled in all things to get an eternal reward from God or to look good in the eyes of people here?



1 Cor. 11:17-22

Instead of coming together as a church to eat the Lord’s Supper, what was their mo­tive/reason for assembling?


Is your motive for assembling as a church or Bible study group that of socializing with your favorite clique of friends; or to learn about God and His will for you so you can become more Christ-like in character and mission; or is it to find yourself a girl/boyfriend; or to have fun; or something else?


2 Cor. 9:7   What shouldn’t be our motive in giving to/helping out needy Christians?


Do you ever give to people out of a motivation of reluctance or feeling pressured?



Whom does God love?


Why do you think this is?


2 Cor. 11:7-13, 20

What was Paul’s motive/reason for not taking money from the Corinthians when he preached the gospel to them?


When people you are witnessing to offer you money, do you accept it, and why?


If you don’t accept money from non-Christians, is it because you want to cut off opportunity from false apostles/evangelists or greedy Christians who want to take advantage of people financially?


Phil. 2:3   From what motivation should the things we do not be done?


Are your motives for doing anything ever out of selfishness or pride?

If so, can you give an example?


Phil. 4:15-17

What was Paul’s motive/reason for wanting the Philippian Christians to support him financially in his evangelistic ministry?


If you’re in a full-time evangelistic/training ministry, is your motive for wanting other Christians to help you financially that of wanting them to be rewarded by God or that of your wanting to freeload off of them?

How do you know?


1 Thes. 5:12-13

What should be the motive/reason for which we appreciate and esteem very highly those who diligently labor among us and have charge over us in the Lord and instruct us (i.e., our spiritual leaders)?


Is your motive for complimenting and outwardly honoring your Christian trainer and/or spiritual leader because of his/her hard work (Bible research/study, counseling, prayers, encouragement, acts of kindness and assistance, emotional/spiritual help, etc.)?


Let us know what you think.